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National Guard

The National Guard is a significant part of the USA's military reserve as well as a state-level militia. However, the National Guard should not be confused with the Reserves of the various services which serve primarily as training units for replacements to active component forces. Unlike the Reserves, the National Guard is normally under the command of state governors, but can be Federalized and placed under the command of the President of the United States.

The National Guard is the development of the American militia during and before the revolutionary struggle against Britain. Following independence, the Constitution empowered Congress to "provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining the militia." But the appointment of officers and training of the militia was given to the states to regulate.

Throughout the 19th century the regular Army was small, and so the militia provided the majority of the troops during the Mexican War, the start of the American Civil War, and the Spanish-American War. In 1903 the militia was renamed the National Guard and organised as a Reserve force for the Army. In World War I, the National Guard made up 40% of the U.S. combat divisions in France. In World War II the National Guard made up nineteen divisions. 140,000 Guardsmen were mobilized for Korea and over 63,000 for Operation Desert Storm. They have also participated in the US peacekeeping forces in Somalia, Haiti, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bosnia, and Kosovo as well as for natural disasters, strikes, riots and security for the Olympics when they have been in the states.

The National Guard while under state command is not subject to the Posse Comitatus Act and can engage in law enforcement activities. These law enforcement powers generally disappear when the National Guard is Federalized.

Following WW II, the National Guard aviation units became the Air National Guard. There is no Naval National Guard due to the constitutional provision against states having ships of war in time of peace, though both New York and Maryland have incorporated Naval Militia units.

The Air National Guard (ANG) has more than 106,000 personnel and the Army National Guard (ARNG) around 350,000 personnel (2001).

The National Guard Bureau (http://www.ngb.dtic.mil/)

"NATIONAL GUARD" is also the name of an Irish political movement of the 1930s. Originally the Army Comrades Association[?] (Blueshirts[?]) was a political organisation formed in 1933 by ex-servicemen from the Free State army. It eventually contained many members of the Cumann na nGaedheal political party, who had no military connection.

Following the fashion of the early to mid-Thirties in Europe the movement took on the outward trappings of Fascism, hence the name Blueshirts, from the distinctive blue shirts that the members wore. Its name was soon changed to the National Guard and it merged with Cumann na nGaedheal and the Centre Party to form what is now one of Ireland's largest political parties, Fine Gael.

Many Latin American countries name their paramilitary forces the "National Guard".

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